BOOK REPORT for Nightfall by Jake Halpern and Peter Kujawinski

Cover Story: Are We Out of the Woods Yet?
BFF Charm: Bertie Bott's Every Flavor
Swoonworthy Scale:
 0
Talky Talk: Descriptive
Bonus Factor:
 LEGO Batman
Ambivalent Factor: World Building
Relationship Status: It's Not You, It's Me

 

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Nightfall - Halpern

Cover Story: Are We Out of the Woods Yet?

For a book with a lot of detailed imagery, this generic forest cover is a bit snoozy and unoriginal. Although the handlike twigs near the base of the trees (or omg not twigs?!?!) are nice touches. 

The Deal:

On the island of Bliss, the sun sets every 28 years—and it's about to do so really soon. Having spent their entire 14 years in daylight, Marin, her twin, Kana, and their friend Line have no idea what happens after sunset. But they're about to find out when the only boats evacuating the island have accidentally left them behind.

Good news: they're not alone. But bad news: they're not alone. And their presence is angering the things that go bump in the night....

BFF Charm: Bertie Bott's Every Flavor

Marin's at that age when she's starting to question the status quo—not necessarily out of rebellion, but just wondering "Why is this the way it is?", esp. with regard to her society's traditions. So I'd like to keep nurturing that inquisitiveness as a surrogate big sister. 

As for her actual sibling, Kana has a sensitivity to light that's rendered him effectively blind for most of his life—and a pro at navigating in darkness. Not only would he be handy to have around, but he's loyal, too. Kana's a survival buddy that you'd def. want on your side. 

And, to an extent, so is Line*, who's been taking care of himself and his little brother ever since their mother died. But this self-reliance also translates into a tendency to be a Big Damn Hero, sometimes against better judgement and earning Line a Zoe Washburne charm. 

*If it helps you get over the fact that a character is named Line, I imagined this pronounced as two syllables with Scandinavian flair—which turned out to be a good assumption, albeit traditionally for a female name.

Swoonworthy Scale: 0

Having only three 14-year-old characters—and with two of them being twins, and the author not being V.C. Andrews—severely limits romance potential. (As should mortal danger, but that's never really stopped YA before.) Still, there are a few moments between Marin and Line that could cause speculation, although I would have preferred Line and Kana receiving potential more-than-platonic vibes instead.

Talky Talk: Descriptive

Halpern and Kujawinski's narration is highly detailed and easily visualized, and their story shrouded in mystery and brimming with suspense. And as my many years of watching Lost have taught me, I can never resist an island full of secrets.

Bonus Factor: LEGO Batman

It's an oversimplification, but part of the plot really can be described as, "Darkness! No parents!"

Ambivalent Factor: Worldbuilding

The concept of prolonged days and nights is what first caught my attention, but I ended up wanting to learn more about the history and the perspective of the island's other inhabitants—sometimes, more than I wanted to check in with the main trio. 

I also have SO MANY QUESTIONS for the townspeople of Bliss. Like, why did y'all choose to settle in a place that you can't even live in for huge 14-year chunks at a time? Is there no free land to colonize in the Desert Lands, which has a much more reasonable 6-day cycle? Desert living ain't easy, but you're already doing it for half your lives anyway. What's the point of going back to Bliss at all?

The other things I can't quite wrap my head around are even more nitpicky, but I'll share them anyway. What kind of planet is this that the sun sets every 28 years in one place, but only 6 days in another?** How does this impact wildlife and vegetation? Are all the people severely sunburned, esp. on Bliss with 14 years of sunlight? Speaking of: why are these people using our units of time measurement? A day is how long it takes the Earth to rotate once; 24 hours in this world would mean literally nothing. I know, I know—alternate universe and I'm way overthinking this for a book that isn't even science fiction. BUT REGARDLESS. 

**Even if Bliss was experiencing polar night, this would have to be a giant planet that rotates slowly—in which case, gravity would also be affected. Different parts of Neptune rotate at different speeds, but that's because the planet is mostly gas. The more you know!

Casting Call:

I don't know enough actors that could pass for 14, so I'm just going to Hot Tub Time Machine everybody to even younger than these old pictures. Although Line is "handsome in the way that few boys of fourteen are." (Hmm.)

Young Zoe Kravitz as Marin

Young Sam Heughan as Line

Young Tom Felton as Kana 

Relationship Status: It's Not You, It's Me

Book, I thought we had a good chance of hitting it off—or, at least, you scaring my pants off. Admittedly, I wasn't the ideal date for you, either, since I kept peppering you with questions. (Although I probably would have forgiven plenty if there was more connection or petrification between us.) Your concept is a great hook when I don't think about it too much; unfortunately, I did think about it too much, and the only thing I'm afraid of is that we're not meant to be. 

Nightfall is available now.